Two engravings, purportedly of Katherine Parr

There are two engravings in the Royal Collection, purportedly of Katherine Parr: 


Katherine Parr by Henry Thomas Ryall, after Hans Holbein the Younger

stipple engraving, early 19th century

NPG D24189

Katherine Parr by William Camden Edwards, after Hans Holbein the Younger

line engraving, early 19th century 

NPG D24191

These engravings have inspired many


Queen Katherine Parr (after Hans Holbein the younger)

William George Tennick (1847–1913)

Kendal Town Hall


Lisby1: 'This painting by Tennick is said to be of Katherine, but it has little resemblance to the queen with the pert nose and heart-shaped face that we know from the majority of her other portraits.' 





A sketch of Mary during her brief period as queen of France.



Mary Tudor (18th of March 1496 – 25th of June 1533), Queen of France by Johannes Corvus


Wedding portrait of Mary Tudor, Dowager Queen of France, and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, ca. 1516, unknown artist. They wed secretly in 1515, a mere six weeks after her first husband's death. Some argue that this is a posthumous portrait of Mary, that it was commisioned after her death.

Katherine Parr by Henry Thomas Ryall, after Hans Holbein the Younger. Stipple engraving, early 19th century. NPG D24189


Katherine Parr by William Camden Edwards, after Hans Holbein the Younger. Coloured.

The engravings of both Henry Thomas Ryall (NPG D24189) and William Camden Edwards (NPG D24191) are both described as being rendered after a painting of Katherine Parr by Holbein.

I cannot find any such painting

Nor do the engravings bear any resemblance to the known portraits of Katherine Parr.

Even taken into consideration that earlier generations were more liberal in their attributions to Holbein, I cannot find the painting the engravings are said to be of.

The engravings do have however have a resemblance to a sketch by Holbein of an unidentified woman, c. 1526 – c. 1528. 


An unidentified woman, c. 1526 – c. 1528. Sketch by Holbein. Royal Collection Trust. Inventory no. 912273. RCIN 912273.


The authenticated sketch of Mary during her brief period as queen of France side by side with the sketch of an unknown woman by Holbein

Mary was known for her beauty and the Venetian ambassador described her as “a Paradise – tall, slender, grey-eyed, possessing an extreme pallor"

So we see that the only distinguishing feature visible on the sketch of an unknown woman by Holbein, the grey eyes, matches the known information about Mary Tudor, Queen of France, Henry VIII's sister.

As Henry VIII's sister she would of course also have been a prime objective to paint for Holbein. In fact, it would almost have been strange if no portraits were commissioned of her, either by her brother, or by herself.

Approximately ten years would have passed between the sketches, accounting for the slight plumpness in Holbein's sketch which is also present in the portrait of Mary by Johannes Corvus. The years between ca. 1515 when the first sketch was drawn and ca. 1526-8 when Holbein's sketch was drawn are also the years in which Mary bore all of her four children.

The authenticated sketch of Mary during her brief period as queen of France side by side with the purported engraving of Katherine Parr

In the engraving we see that the woman there has the same heart-shaped around the forehead hood that allows for some of the hair to show.

But the woman in the engraving's headpiece is more elaborate, with a veil pinned onto the heart-shaped hood. 

Making it curiously more appropriate for a queen of France, a king's sister and a duke's wife in a time of elaborate headpieces.

The authenticated sketch of Mary during her brief period as queen of France side by side with the purported coloured engraving of Katherine Parr

The authenticated sketch of Mary during her brief period as queen of France side by side with the purported coloured engraving of Katherine Parr

The sketch of an unknown woman by Holbein side by side with the purported coloured engraving of Katherine Parr

Anne Stafford, c. 1535, by Ambrosius Benson

Anne Stafford, daughter of Katherine Woodville, niece of Queen Elizabeth Woodville and mistress of Henry VIII
Anne Stafford, Countess of Huntingdon (c. 1483–1544) was the daughter of Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, and Lady Katherine Woodville. She was the wife of Sir Walter Herbert, and George Hastings, 1st Earl of Huntingdon, and mistress of Henry VIII.
Anne Stafford had two brothers, Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, and Henry Stafford, 1st Earl of Wiltshire; and a sister, Elizabeth Stafford, Countess of Sussex.
As the daughter of a duke, sister of one duke and one earl, wife of an earl, the mistress of Henry VIII and as a first cousin once removed to both him and his sister Mary, she was, if not of the same rank, than of at least sufficiently high enough rank to be comparable to Mary, at least in terms of fashionable headwear.
In short, could Anne Stafford wear a linen cap with a veil pinned to it, so too could Mary Tudor.

According to Alison Weir, 'It's remarkably like the face of the sitter in the Hever 'Mary Boleyn' portrait'.

Alison Weir goes on to say, 'Regarding the costume of the sitter, it puzzled me to see a Netherlandish/Flemish beguin headdress on a portrait that looked as if it dated from the 1550s, so I looked again at the costume, zooming in to get as clear a view of the black gown as possible, and realised that what I thought were sleeves puffed at the top is actually a wide partlet, which dates the costume earlier - as early as the 1530s. [...] The date 1534 could be correct on the evidence of costume - but it is highly unlikely that Anne Boleyn would have worn a beguin headdress. I have never come across a portrait of an English sitter wearing one.'

But what is this is simply not true? We see that the engravings of 'Katherine Parr' feature a sitter with a similar headdress. As does the sketch of 'An unknown woman' by Holbein from approximately the same time period. Anne Stafford wears a similar headdress in 1535.

'What suggests very high status is the chair. Only those of high rank sat on chairs - lesser people sat on stools or stood.'

'I think the face was over-painted later [...]. This may have been done in Elizabeth's reign, but I think it was probably in the 17th century. Maybe in overpainting he didn't deviate too far from the features, which is why you can see some similarities.'

I agree. The face has clearly been overpainted, and not well, but it is entirely possible that the artist has not deviated too far from the features. 


'Unfortunately, the portrait is not comparable to known likenesses of Anne Boleyn, and the coat-of-arms is not hers. The inscription appears to be a later addition as well. The search continues...'


Called 'Anne Boleyn', by an Unknown Artist, Bibliothèque nationale de France

Isabella of Austria (1501–1526)

Nor would this have been an unual style amongst queens. Isabella of Austria, or Elizabeth of Denmark, as she is also known, was Queen of Denmark, Sweden and Norway as the wife of King Christian II.

Isabella of Austria was, much to the horror of her Catholic family the Habsburgs, like Anne Boleyn, a dedicated Protestant.

She may have been a woman Anne Boleyn wished to emulate, in more ways than one. 

I initially thought that Mary's cap in the drawing of her when she was Queen of France was the innermost part of a more elaborate headdress, but Lady Hoby in a sketch by Holbein in the Royal Collection is featured in a similar hood, this one dark blue or black, not white as we can see in the coloured versions of the engraving, the sketch of an unknown woman by Holbein, and the portrait of Anne Stafford.




Elizabeth, Lady Hoby, was a member of Queen Katherine Parr's circle. She was the daughter of Sir Walter Stonor, the Lieutenant of the Tower of London, and the wife of Sir Philip Hoby, the ambassador to the Holy Roman Empire and Flanders. 

However, could it be both?


Portrait study of Margaret Giggs

Black and coloured chalks on paper, 38.5 × 27.3 cm, Royal Collection, Windsor. Margaret Giggs (1508–70) was the foster daughter of Sir Thomas More. This drawing is one of seven fine surviving studies drawn by Holbein for his group portrait study of Thomas More's family. In the family portrait study, Margaret is leaning towards Thomas More's father, Sir John More, as if showing him a passage in a book, and she wears a different headdress. In a copy of Holbein's lost painting by Rowland Lockey, however, she wears the same cap as in the present drawing. Margaret Giggs attended Thomas More's execution in 1535. She married her tutor, the physician John Clement, by whom she had 5 children. She died in exile in Belgium. The inscription "Mother Iack", added later, is demonstrably false (Susan Foister, Holbein in England, London: Tate, 2006, ISBN 1854376454, p. 38; K. T. Parker, The Drawings of Hans Holbein in the Collection of His Majesty the King at Windsor Castle, London: Phaidon, 1945, p. 37).

The compositional sketch by Hans Holbein the Younger

Copy of Holbein's lost painting by Rowland Lockey


Could the cap(s) be what was worn under the more elaborate headdresses of the Tudor era?

And be worn by themselves in more intimate settings or for simplicity's sake?


Portrait of a Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling, probably Anne Lovell. oil and tempera on oak, 54 × 38.7 cm, National Gallery, London

'The subject of this portrait was identified in 2004 as Anne Lovell, wife of Sir Francis Lovell (d. 1551), an esquire of the body to Henry VIII. David J. King, in his article "Who was Holbein's lady with a squirrel and a starling?", proposed that the starling in the painting encodes a pun on the Lovell family's seat at East Harling, Norfolk.[1] The starling and the squirrel were traditional elements in the Lovell iconography.[2] Holbein painted the portrait during his first visit to England, which lasted from summer 1526 to to summer 1528. King suggests it might have been done in winter, since the sitter wears a warm fur hat. During this first stay, Holbein worked largely for the circle of Thomas More and his connections: his drawing of More's ward Margaret Giggs shows her wearing the same type of hat. Holbein also painted portraits of Sir Henry Guildford and Mary, Lady Guildford, with similar decorative foliage in the background.[3] At this stage of his career, he often adapted such designs from pattern books; in his last decade he set his portrait subjects against plain backgrounds in a more iconic style. Art historian John Rowlands judges this painting "the most charming of the portraits from Holbein's first stay in England".[4]'

Perhaps not the Tudor ladies either always felt like being dressed up to the nines, and liked having an easier, simpler alternative consisting of the innermost part of their headdresses?

Gable Hood

C. 1532-5

Hans Holbein the Younger


It does not take a great deal of imagination to realise that these elaborate headdresses could have been both heavy and cumbersome. There are royal ladies today who avoid the tiaras and diadems that are theirs to wear because they are difficult to dance in and make them develop splitting headaches. 


We know that Mary Tudor, Queen of France, was never in particularly strong health. Mary lost her mother when she was just seven, and given the number of bills paid to her apothecary from 1504 to 1509, it would appear that Mary's own health was fragile. Mary suffered multiple bouts of illness, requiring treatments over her lifetime. She died at age 37 in 1533, having never fully recovered from the sweating sickness she caught in 1528.


Perhaps she preferred the simpler fashion of a linen cap with or without a veil attached?


If she was susceptible to headaches or other aches in the shoulders or neck or aches in other parts of the body the weight of a Spanish hood or a French hood or an English gable hood might have made matters worse.


It is tempting to apply the same logic to the sketch of Anne Boelyn, if indeed it is of her. Many people, if they are to believe that the sketch is of Anne at all, believe that she was pregnant at the time of the sketching. This is a reasonable conclusion, both because it would account for the swelling, and because Anne spent most of her short time as queen pregnant, first with Elizabeth, and then with the little babies who were not to be.


Holbein's sketch reveals a pensive woman.


The ordinary complaints of pregnancy or indeed a difficult pregnancy could have tempted Anne to wear a simpler headdress than the ones she was normally inclined to. Headaches are one of the most common discomforts experienced during a pregnancy. Headaches may occur at any time during a pregnancy, but they tend to be most common during the first and third trimesters


As a queen, Anne would never truly have been alone. It is one reason why the allegations towards her were so ridiculous. Even in her private chambers she would have been surrounded by people. And perhaps expected to entertain court painters who came by.



 Recreation of a Tudor Court Gown


Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk (1519-1580)


RCIN 912194

Hans Holbein the Younger


A Young Englishwoman, costume study

1526–28 or c. 1532–35

Hans Holbein the Younger



The costume study of an Englishwoman was done either during Holbein's first stay in England between 1526 and 1528 (the costume resembles that in the More Family drawing) or early in his second stay, which began in 1532 (Susan Foister, Holbein in England, London: Tate, 2006, p. 110).


Jane Pemberton Small


Hans Holbein the Younger

'Portrait of a Woman, inscribed in gold over red "Anna Bollein Queen". Black and coloured chalks on pink prepared paper, 28.1 × 19.2 cm. Royal Collection, Windsor. Heraldic sketches on the reverse The question whether or not this Holbein drawing is of Anne Boleyn has produced sharp division among scholars. It comes from a priceless collection discovered by Queen Caroline of Ansbach in a bureau at Kensington in 1727. The drawing is one of two by Holbein inscribed as of Anne Boleyn, the other being in the British Museum. The attribution of the present drawing as Anne Boleyn was made by John Cheke, tutor of the future Edward VI, in 1542. Cheke had entered the royal service after a period working at Cambridge University, and so he may never himself have seen Anne Boleyn, who had been executed in 1536; however, he knew people who had known her. For a long time, many scholars, including K. T. Parker and Anne Boleyn's biographer Eric Ives, have doubted that this portrait was of Anne: they point to the occasional mistake in Cheke's attributions, to the sketches of Wyatt heraldry on the back of the sheet, and to dissimilarities between this image and other possible likenesses of Anne, who was said to have had darker hair than depicted. It has also been argued that Holbein would not have drawn a woman of Anne's stature in an undercap. In Ives's view, "There is little to reinstate either Holbein drawing". Among those who argue the case for this portrait being correctly inscribed are Holbein scholar John Rowlands, historian David Starkey, and Holbein's biographer Derek Wilson. They argue for the reinstatement of this image as of Anne and express reluctance to dismiss Cheke's attribution. Rowlands challenges Ives's conclusions, which are partly based on dissimilarities with other possible images of Anne, on the grounds that it is a mistake to rely too much on the accuracy of these other images, particularly since none, except for a damaged portrait medal, are provably contemporary with Anne. Rowlands concludes that "the circumstantial grounds in favour of the Windsor drawing are really very compelling". As a result of these disagreements, the drawing has not been captioned consistently in reproductions, sometimes being called "Anne Boleyn" without reservation, and sometimes "Unknown Lady" or something similar. Some scholars prefer to label the drawing less decisively: Susan Foister, for example, the curator of the Tate's "Holbein in England" exhibition of 2006, writes: "Whether Holbein portrayed Anne remains an open question: a drawing at Windsor inscribed with her name shows a fair-haired woman whose appearance differs greatly from the painted portraits"; Tarnya Cooper, in the catalogue of the "Elizabeth" exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in 2003, captions the drawing: "Portrait of a Woman, probably Anne Boleyn, c. 1532–6".'

The Epitaph of Anne Stanhope, Duchess of Somerset


The Last Will of Anne Stanhope, Duchess of Somerset 


Compare also the cap worn by Anne Stanhope (c.1510 – 16 April 1587), in about 1526:


Anne Stanhope, Duchess of Somerset

C. 1526

In the manner of Bernaert van Orley


'Anne Stanhope was likely born in 1510, the only child of Sir Edward Stanhope (1462 – 6 June 1511) by his wife Elizabeth Bourchier (b. before 1473, d. 1557), a daughter of Fulk Bourchier, 10th Baron FitzWarin (1445–1479). By her father's first marriage to Adelina Clifton she had two half-brothers, Richard Stanhope (died 1529) and Sir Michael Stanhope. After the death of Sir Edward Stanhope in 1511, his widow, Elizabeth, married Sir Richard Page of Beechwood, Hertfordshire. Her paternal grandparents were Thomas Stanhope, esquire, of Shelford and Margaret (or Mary) Jerningham, and her maternal grandparents were Fulke Bourchier, 2nd Baron Fitzwaryn and Elizabeth Dynham. Through her mother, Anne was a descendant of Thomas of Woodstock, the youngest son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. Anne's snobbery and pride were considered to be intolerable, yet she was highly intelligent and determined. Antonio de Guaras, a Spanish merchant living in London, would later say of her, that she was "more presumptuous than Lucifer".'


'Anne Stanhope married Sir Edward Seymour sometime before 9 March 1535. Seymour's first marriage, to Catherine Fillol, had possibly been annulled, but his first wife was probably dead by then. Edward Seymour was the eldest brother of Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII. Shortly after the king's marriage to Jane in June 1536, Edward Seymour was elevated to the peerage as Viscount Beauchamp. In October 1537, after the birth of his royal nephew Edward, he was created Earl of Hertford. In 1547, he became a duke, so Anne became the Duchess of Somerset.'


'Anne Seymour was present at the wedding ceremony of Henry VIII and Katherine Parr on 12 July 1543. After Henry VIII's death, her husband acted as king in all but name. With this power, the Duchess of Somerset considered herself the first lady of the realm, claiming precedence over Henry VIII's widow, following the latter's marriage to the Duke of Somerset's brother, Thomas Seymour. The Duchess considered that Katherine Parr forfeited her rights of precedence when she married the younger brother of the Duchess's husband. She refused to bear Katherine's train, and even physically tried to push her out of her place at the head of their entrances and exits at court. The Duchess was quoted as having said of Katherine, "If master admiral (Thomas Seymour) teach his wife no better manners, I am she that will". Katherine, in her turn, privately referred to her sister-in-law as "that Hell". Katherine Parr won the battle by invoking the Third Succession Act which clearly stated that she had precedence over all ladies in the realm; in point of fact, as regards precedence, the Duchess of Somerset came after Queen Katherine, Princess Mary, Princess Elizabeth and Anne of Cleves. The Duchess, who was described as a "violent woman", wielded considerable power for a short time, which later would reflect negatively on her husband's reputation.'


It must however be said, that Anne Stanhope took good care of Katherine Parr's daughter Mary Seymour after the child's mother died in child birth and her father was imprisoned, keeping little Mary in the nursery with her own children.


Thomas Seymour's wish to have little Mary removed from there and placed with Katherine Willoughby instead was probably not in the child's best interest.


The Last Will of Anne Stanhope, Duchess of Somerset


This seems even more a cap that would be worn underneath something, rather a complete headwear in itself.

Compare the portrait of Anne Stanhope and the sketch by Holbein.

Both women wear white cloth caps on their head that cover almost the entirety of their hair. Both women wear coats lined with fur. Anne Stanhope wears a fur coat, it is possible that so does the woman in the sketch. 

Comparing the two caps, the likeness is striking.

The only discernible difference appears to be the piece of the headdress that covers the ears, seeming to reflect the development of the French hood between 1526-1536.

While Anne Stanhope in 1526 had lapels that went down squarely cowering her ears, being a part of the main fabric of the cap, Anne Boleyn in 1536 has lapels that go out in an angle with hoops to allow for the jewelled tips of the hood that had by that point evolved into narrow

the shape of the french hood evolved-the tips of the hood narrowed into points

Even the fur coat Isabella of Austria is wearing bears a startling resemblance to the fur coat in the sketch possibly of Anne Boleyn by Holbein.

Isabella of Austria (1501–1526)

We see here in another portrait of Isabella of Austria, also painted around 1516-26, the same French hood with the square lapels that follow the hairline, covering the ears, that Anne Stafford has in her portrait. If you were to remove the elaborate headdress you probably would find a cap similar to Anne Stanhope's underneath.

If you compare the sketch by Holbein of Katherine Willoughby and the sketch possibly of Anne Boleyn, you can see that both women are wearing a blackwork collar.




French hood



C. 1540-1



C. 1543-6



C. 1543-6





C. 1546


The earliest example I can find for this version of the French hood is the miniature of Elizabeth Grey, Lady Audley. It is tentatively dated to c. 1538, as she was married that year, and it is thought that the miniature may have been ordered to celebrate that occasion.



The miniature could date from earlier or later, though.


It is my belief that this miniature actually dates from earlier, from c. 1534. See more about that here: Consort Necklace


We also have this sketch of Mary Brandon, Lady Monteagle:


Mary, Lady Monteagle (1510-before 1544)


RCIN 912223

Hans Holbein the Younger



She was a great favourite of Henry VIII's third wife, Queen consort Jane Seymour, who held her in great favour and gave her a gift of some of her jewellery. The sketch cannot be from Jane's time as queen, though, as Jane Seymour famously banned the French fashions her predecessor had been so fond of.


So one possibility is that the sketch indeed does date from 1538-40, as the Royal Collection suggests, after the death of Jane Seymour. Another possibility is that the sketch dates from before Jane Seymour's elevation to queen and her subsequent ban of French fashions. That it in fact dates from the reign of her predecessor Anne Boleyn.


We know that Holbein returned to England in 1532 for his second stay and that Margaret Wotton, Marchioness of Dorset, had her portrait painted by him shortly afterwards.




There are further indications that the Greys might have been early patrons of Holbein. The formidable Margaret Wotton, Marchioness of Dorset, Frances Brandon's mother-in-law and Jane Grey's grandmother, was the sister of Mary Wotton, Lady Guildford, the subject of the famous portrait by Holbein.


Both she and her husband had had their portraits painted by Holbein in 1527.



 Margaret Wotton, Marchioness of Dorset, and Mary Wotton, Lady Guildford




C. 1503-8




C. 1503-9



C. 1515-25



C. 1515-25







Portrait of a Young Woman

Formerly "English Princess," by the Master of Mary Tudor



This seems to establish this type of French hood as early as 1535. And of course, if the sketch by Holbein is indeed of Anne Boleyn, it could not have been drawn later than 1536.



An unidentified woman formerly known as Katherine Howard


RCIN 912218

Hans Holbein the Younger


An unidentified woman


RCIN 912253

Hans Holbein the Younger


Grace, Lady Parker (1515- by 1549)


RCIN 912230

Hans Holbein the Younger


Mary Zouch (?)


RCIN 912252

Hans Holbein the Younger


Portrait of an Unknown Woman


Hans Holbein the Younger



private collection, England (in or shortly before 1910); [art dealer, London, in 1910; sold to Hollitscher]; Carl von Hollitscher, Berlin (1910–at least 1912; cat., 1912, no. 18, as by a Netherlandish Master, about 1535); Camillo Castiglioni, Vienna (until 1925; his sale, Frederik Muller, Amsterdam, November 17–20, 1925, no. 43); private collection, England; [Édouard Brandus, until 1926; as "English Princess," by the Master of Mary Tudor; sold for $12,161.87 to Bache]; Jules S. Bache, New York (1926–d. 1944; his estate, 1944–49; cats., 1937, no. 33; 1943, no. 32)
Exhibition History
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Bache Collection," June 16–September 30, 1943, no. 32 (as "An English Princess," by the 16th-century Master of Queen Mary Tudor).

Paris. Orangerie des Tuileries. "Le Portrait dans l'art flamand de Memling à Van Dyck," October 21, 1952–January 4, 1953, no. 39.

Max J. Friedländer in Die Gemälde-Sammlung des Herrn Carl von Hollitscher in Berlin. Ed. Wilhelm von Bode and Max J. Friedländer. Berlin, 1912, pp. 11–12, 32, no. 18, ill., notes that Hollitscher purchased it from a private collection in England in 1910; finds the costume comparable to the dress seen in certain of Holbein's English court portraits of 1535; compares the drawing of the hands with that in a female portrait by Holbein in the Lanckoronski collection, Vienna [possibly MMA 49.7.30, "Portrait of a Young Woman," Style of Holbein] but does not view this portrait as a Holbein copy or the work of a Holbein imitator; is convinced that the artist was a Netherlander familiar with Holbein's work, who was active in the English court about 1535, and suggests the remote possibility that it's author might be Joos van Cleve; notes that Hollitscher believes this portrait represents the young Queen Mary as a princess, observing that in 1535 she would have been 19 years old.

A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. under revision. New York, 1937, unpaginated, no. 33, ill., identify the sitter as an English princess, and ascribe the portrait to the 16th-century "Master of Queen Mary Tudor"; cite the opinion of Paul Ganz [see Ganz n.d.].

A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. rev. ed. New York, 1943, unpaginated, no. 32, ill.

Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, pp. 139–40, ill., note that the gown and bonnet worn by the sitter are of a type known from portraits of Holbein and worn by members of the English court between 1530 and 1540; observe that although the pose suggests Holbein, the handling is much closer to Joos van Cleve, who also worked in England about 1530; reject the identification of the sitter as Mary Tudor, noting that "the eyes of the subject of our portrait are blue, not brown like those of the queen" [Mary Tudor's eyes were, in fact, light bluish grey (see Ref. Marshall 1992)].

Millia Davenport. The Book of Costume. New York, 1948, vol. 1, p. 433, no. 1158, ill. (cropped).

Erik Larsen. Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York. Utrecht, 1960, p. 93, finds it closer to Holbein than to Flemish art.

Jacques Guillouet. Letter. n.d. [probably 1965], tentatively ascribes this portrait to Barthel Bruyn the Elder comparing it with a female portrait belonging to the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, that was on deposit at the Mauritshuis, The Hague (no. 889).

Hildegard Westhoff-Krummacher. Letter to Philippe de Montebello. January 6, 1967, rejects any possible association of this picture with Barthel Bruyn or the Cologne School and believes it was produced in Antwerp.

Rosalind K. Marshall. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. June 3, 1992, notes that Mary Tudor's eyes were "light bluish grey," as can be seen in two paintings owned by the National Portrait Gallery, London; observes that "The features [of our portrait] do seem . . . to bear a resemblance to those of Mary as seen in, for example, the drawing thought to be her in the Royal Collection".

From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, p. 410, ill.




Katherine Willoughby (in the middle) side by side with two of the other sketches by Holbein.

This is quite clearly the same woman.

The shape of the nose, the fleshy lips, the eyes, the colour of the hair that escapes from the English gable hood in the miniature and from the cap in the Holbein sketch ... The eye colour. Even the eyebrows, thick at the roots, thinning as they move in the direction of the temple ...

However, does it naturally follow, that if these two, the miniature and the sketch, are of Anne Boleyn, that we must give up the other sketch as being of her too?

Because Holbein never painted the same woman so different that if one had not had near incontrovertible proof, one would never have thought to connect the two, right? Right?


Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk


The miniature on the left is by Holbein. The sketch on the right is also by Holbein. 


The similarities can best be summed up as a pert little nose and the eyebrows, and Her Grace's choice of a blackwork collar for both sittings.


The sketch has a weaker chin, and a double chin at that. The hood hides all hair, making it impossible to make out hair colour, and obscures the jawline and more importantly a great deal of her forehead, making it impossible to see if she has the high, clear forehead of the lady in the miniature.

Recently there has been suggestions that the lady in the sketch is not Katherine Willoughby at all, but Mary Tudor, the Duke of Suffolk's wife before her. Though she was always known as the Queen of France in her own lifetime, Mary Tudor was certainly entitled to being styled as Duchess of Suffolk.

When we compare the two sketches, one of Mary as Queen of France, and the other of the Duchess of Suffolk by Holbein, there is no great likeness to be found.

However, if we compare the Holbein sketch to the portrait of Mary Tudor by Johannes Corvus, the likeness is at once greater.


Katherine Willoughby            The Duchess of Suffolk       Mary Tudor by Johannes Corvus


It is accentuated, of course, by them wearing a similar hood framing the face, but I am actually thinking more of the roundness of the ladies' features. Now, by roundness, I am not referring to plumpness, but rather to a certain roundness in facial shape and to the nose. This roundness of features can also be found in one of the commemorative wedding portraits of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon, though not in the other copy:



Now, I actually do believe that the aforementioned sketch by Holbein does portray Katherine Willoughby.


But would I have been willing to guarantee it? No.


Would I have been willing to guarantee that the sketch is in fact not of Mary Tudor, Queen of France, the third wife of Charles Brandon, rather than Katherine Willoughby, his fourth wife? No.


This proves that even though we here have two images purportedly of the same woman, both by Holbein, the resemblance is still not so great that we without any doubt can conclude that they are the same woman.


But that is an anomaly, right?


After all, ten years separates the sketch from the miniature. Fashion had changed. Katherine Willoughby had borne two children. She might have been pregant in the sketch.


But that is the only instance, right?


And Katherine Willoughby would have at different stages in her life, she would have been older, fashions would have changed, she might have been pregnant in the sketch.


But if Holbein drew two portraits of the same woman at precisely the same point in time, then it would be indubitably clear that this was the same woman, right? Right?






Let us be honest.


If they had not been wearing the exact same costume, how many of us would have assumed this to be the same woman?

Called Katherine Parr, actually Anna van Spangen, Wife of Adriaen van der Goes

Anna van Spangen, Wife of Adriaen van der Goes 1543, Follower of Joos van Cleve

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